Red Sea, April 2017 with Blue o Two

FullSizeRender 20I started diving many moons ago…when I was 18 years old. Since then it is only really in the last 4 years that I have had the time and ability to take up this sport in earnest. Joining my Totnes BSAC club I have loved exploring the Devonshire and Cornish coast with my dive buddies. I have never been disappointed with British diving. It might be inconsistent thanks to UK weather and issues with visibility and plankton blooms but I love it all the same. It always provides interesting scenes, new species that I haven’t seen before and a great community to share your experiences with.

Last year I had the chance to head to Madeira. The vis was an impressive 20m, the seas were filled with octopus, Grouper and lovely species which I don’t see in my home waters. I got the bug to explore other seas and more tropical waters…but still love UK seas!

This year, next week in fact,  I have the chance to have many firsts. I will be on my first liveaboard boat trip with Blue O Two, my first coral reef diving experience, my first time I have dived the Red Sea and hopefully the first time I dive with sharks. I am a little bit excited!!

As a mum it’s not always easy to justify a trip like this and so it hasn’t happened in previous years as family holidays were needed to cater for everyone. But this year, I am taking a week to explore the Red Sea with my good marine biologist buddy Dr Emma Sheehan. She has experience of the Chagos archipelago, Australia’s coral reefs and is far more diver travelled than I. It’ll be interesting to see how she rates her experience compared to me as a reef virgin!

I can’t deny that I’m not a little apprehensive. The sharks that we hope to see live in currents of waters I’ve not dived in before. I am sure that I will get in to my diving groove and love it but it’s nice to have some sense of anticipation to heighten the experience with a little endorphins.

The boat will also have shark expert Dr Elke Bojanowski marine biologist and expert diver guide as educator and guide. I am sure that we are in for a treat and will come back better informed and with some amazing experiences!

I’m really interested to see how other divers on the boat feel about conservation and the role of educators like Elke on dive trips. It seems like a knowledgable shark expert on board a diving holiday is a great opportunity to learn a little more about the aquatic world that us divers love to explore and make us become more conscientious, conservation-minded divers.

So I have packed…what do you take on a trip like this? …not very much other than dive kit! I’m going for my semi-dry Othree wetsuit & hood which will keep me more than toasty at depth when contrasting on photography. My simple but effective Sony RX100 with Recsea housing, my trusty Aqua-lung BCD & reg set, SMB, Hollis fins & mask, Suunto dive computer that I probably should update at some point and a few bikinis, shorts & vests. I think I have it covered…SPF 50 too!

I will be reporting back on my experience so watch this space to hear about what I might see and check out my twitter feed @mayaplass for some over-excited exclamations about what I’ve seen…

…let the adventure begin!

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Update since 2014..oops

So it has been too long since I’ve updated this page. It has been a busy 3 years since I
last posted. My work has continued working with chidren on local school projects which can be seen at learntosea.blogspot.com and I also have been running workshops for the ‘big kids’ too. This has included workshops in N Devon and elsewhere on seashore safaris and photography workshops.

I have also been on a Wickes advert which can be seen on my homepage. I hope it meets with your “seal” of approval…groan.

I have continued to write reviews of books in BBC Wildlife mag, have been a columnist for 3 years for Coast mag and have contributed features to Diver magazine and BBC Countryfile.

I am currently completing my second book which will be published in spring 2018 by Quarto publishing, “Seashore Watcher” a children’s seashore book crammed with great facts, ideas for activities and inspiration to head to the seashore.

I continue to enjoy giving talks to local community groups, schools and various other audiences. Please do get in touch if you would like to enquire about me attending any events as speaker or for media work.

Still to be found playing in the sea when I’m not working – diving, swimming, freediving (freshly AIDA 2* qualified) and running on dry land. I even managed to squeeze a half marathon in last year.

I’ll try to update this blog a little more frequently the future!

Rockpool Rambles & Talks

I’ve also been getting my feet wet in the rockpools (as ever). This week I’m heading up to North Devon to run rockpool sessions for Lynmouth state of the art education centre (Wednesday) and also Ilfracombe Museum (Thursday).

I’ve already given a talk to Ilfracombe Museum on “200 Years on the Seashore”. It’s a talk to celebrate and explore our relationship with the sea over the past 200 years. I used many of my historical seashore guides to offer some perspectives. It was really interesting researching the talk and I have been told (in feedback from attendees) that the talk was “great fun and very infromative”.

I’ll be giving the same talk this Wednesday evening at Lynmouth Pavillions at 7pm.

Valmer filming with Back to the Planet.

Had a fantastic day down in Mount Batten filming with production company Back to the Planet. You can see photos of the shoot here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152018907216856.1073741844.85676696855&type=1 on the Back to The Planet facebook page.

The film was for a European project called Valmer which was very similar to the European project I worked on when I worked in policy at Devon County Council. We were creating a film to demonstrate the value and benefits (ecosystem services) of our seas and oceans. It was a beautiful sunny day and Mount Batten (Plymouth) showcased all the benefits of the sea beautifully!

It also gave me a chance to practise my french on one of the Valmer french partners and also to go kayaking and make use of Back to the Planet’s dolli and MOVi camera system…over water…brilliant fun!

The film will be available on-line soon.

Learn To Sea

I’m just about to start a fantastic project with a local school which will run though March – June at a wonderful wetland/estuary wildlife hotspot. The children will become mini wildlife rangers! They’ll lay pitfall traps, mammal traps, use sweep nets and kick nets, observe the birds and much more thanks to funding from the Aune Conservation Association.